Wedding Rehearsal: What to Expect
Prior to getting married, I had never been a bridesmaid or a part of any pre-wedding festivities. Therefore, when it came to scheduling our wedding rehearsal, I really didn’t know what to expect. If you’re like me, I’m here to answer all your wedding rehearsal questions below!
There is no right or wrong way to run a wedding rehearsal. Mainly, be prepared to make a lot of decisions at your rehearsal.
You will have to decide where everyone is standing, who is going to be walking in, when music will start and stop, etc. It is the time to figure out exactly how your ceremony will run.
Hot Tip: Think through how you want your ceremony to look prior to the rehearsal. It will help things run faster and more smoothly.
Who runs the rehearsal?
Typically, your wedding rehearsal is run by your coordinator or your officiant. These tend to be people that have been to numerous weddings so they generally know the process of how things should run.
If you don’t have a coordinator, then I recommend designating one very organized person who can help run things. It is better to have one person in charge than too many cooks in the kitchen.
Who attends a rehearsal?
A good rule of thumb is to have anyone that “moves” during the ceremony be present at the rehearsal. This means the entire bridal party, flower girls and ring bearers, parents, and anyone perhaps doing a special reading or participating in some other way.
The point of your rehearsal is to understand the flow of the ceremony so everyone knows where to go and when to move. Therefore, make sure you include anyone that might need to move during your ceremony.
When should I have my wedding rehearsal?
Coordinate with your venue to determine when you can schedule your rehearsal. Generally, this might be a few days before your actual ceremony.
Rehearsals have to be scheduled around other weddings and events, so they might fall on a weekday or in the morning. For my rehearsal, we had ours on the Friday morning before our Sunday ceremony.
Don’t schedule your wedding rehearsal too far in advance. You want it to be close enough that no one forgets what they are supposed to do.
Who goes first in the processional?
The best way to figure out your processional is to actually work backwards. Determine where everyone will end up, whether they will be sitting down or standing by the bride and groom’s side. Traditionally, when facing the alter, the bridal party stands on the left and the groom stands on the right.
From there, work backwards walking people out one by one. All you need to do then is reverse the order for the processional.
There is no right or wrong way to do a processional. This is how we did ours:
- Groom’s mom (escorted by groom’s brother)
- Groom’s dad & stepmom
- My son (Best Buddy) + my stepmom
- My daughter (Maid of Awesomeness) + Flower Girl
- Me + my dad
Can I walk myself down the aisle?
Absolutely! Back in the day, it was traditional for a father to “give the bride away,” but we are far past those days. There are all sorts of family relations and it is not necessary that anyone walks you down the aisle.
There are all sorts of ways for the bride to enter. Some couples are choosing to walk in together as a symbol of stepping into this next phase of their life as one. Others are choosing to have both parents (or stepparents) walk them down the aisle.
It is just important to do whatever makes you comfortable.
Where do my parents sit?
Typically, parents sit at the front of the aisle closest to their child. Divorced parents are more and more common now though, which can make family dynamics difficult.
Just make sure your parents have an unobstructed view by putting them in the front row or along the aisle.
Hot Tip: If you are having someone walk you down the aisle, make sure you practice the “hand off” to avoid an awkward exchange at the end of the aisle. At our wedding, I hugged my dad and he shook my husband’s hand.
What do I do with my bouquet?
Use your rehearsal to map out when and to whom you are going to pass off your bouquet. Typically, a bridesmaid will hold your bouquet throughout the ceremony.
If your wedding dress has a train, designate someone (who isn’t holding your bouquet) to be responsible for spreading your dress out anytime after you move. This isn’t entirely necessary, but it will make your pictures look a whole lot nicer.
What should I do about music?
In my experience, it is unlikely that your DJ or band will be able to attend your wedding rehearsal. Therefore, make sure to coordinate with your DJ so they know when each music cue should be played.
Consider having different music cues for your processional, bridal entrance, any unity ceremonies, and your recessional. Then, make sure you relay all of that information to your DJ or band before your wedding day.
Hot Tip: Where possible, make your ceremony music cues the instrumental versions. These are generally easier to loop should your DJ need to adjust for timing.
What should I wear?
There are many people who choose to wear a special wedding rehearsal dress in white. I personally just wore a dress that was comfortable to me.
Bring your bridal shoes to practice walking in them! This is especially important if you are walking on uneven ground or grass. Recommend that your bridal party do the same so they can practice as well. It will help you avoid any accidentally tripping on your wedding day.
Are there wedding rehearsal traditions?
Generally speaking, no. The only tradition that I have seen people do is use a ribbon bouquet made from the gifts received during their bridal shower. Follow these step-by-step instructions from Paper Plate Fun on how to make a ribbon bouquet.
Explore More: Wondering what else to do at a bridal shower? Check out my post on how to plan a bridal shower on a budget.
How long should the rehearsal last?
Wedding rehearsals typically last no longer than an hour. Obviously, the larger your bridal party and more intricate your ceremony, the longer your rehearsal will last.
Make sure to run through all of the movements, start to finish, at least twice.
Hot Tip: If you have specific music cues, have someone play these on your phone to help you get a general sense of timing.
Do I need to have a wedding rehearsal dinner?
Many people consider their “wedding rehearsal dinner” as more of a final meal before the big day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be right after the wedding rehearsal, especially if you have yours earlier in the week.
Since our wedding rehearsal was early Friday morning, we just went out to lunch with our bridal party afterwards. We then had a separate welcome dinner the night before the wedding for our out-of-town guests.
With anything else wedding related, make it your own! Remember there is no one way to do things, so don’t stress too much over it.
Wedding Photo Credit: Asheville Wedding Photography
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